For anyone who doesn't know, I've been doing less work programming and more work writing ever since around October last year. Making games was supposed to be something I'd give a try and have some fun with, but it eventually took over my writing hobby, something which has always been more important to me.
Recently I joined a writing community online, and was surprised by the rate at which some of the members of that community can put out novels. Their outlook is simple and pretty brutal considering the type of person you'd think would be in an online writing community: If you're going to write, then write something and get it done; if you've been working on "your novel" for years, then you're not a writer. I respect that. I want to be a part of a community that pushes its members to get stuff done.
I'm bringing this up because it is relevant to BYOND developers. If you're going to make a game, do it. Plan to have a 1.0 (a finished, playable from start to finish, game) done in 2 months. Don't sit on a game for years, making blog posts, releasing demos, letting your friends play testing rounds, and then expect people to actually be excited and want to play it when it comes out. If the game takes more than 6 months, and the end isn't (be serious now) in sight, you need to seriously reexamine your development process and set realistic goals.
Your project should be something concrete, that you can realistically expect yourself to achieve, and be able to be finished in a reasonable time frame.
I'm pretty sure of myself as a developer, even though I have more than my share of failures, abandoned projects, and a project that spent over two years in development hell. Even though it goes against the BYOND Warning of the Day, I'm going to announce a new project. A pre-release version will be finished by February 1st and submitted to LummoxJR's Cartridge Classic II. The game will be an RPG set in a standard fantasy setting, with Rogue-like elements, and will feature limited multiplayer support. A 1.0 release will follow the release of judging results.
Many of my hub entries point to unfinished games, or games that have stopped working with newer version of the BYOND suite. I have hidden (essentially: removed) these hubs. That means there's no more hub for Plunder Gnome, B17: Fortress over Germany, or Castle Masters. This leaves me with only Regressia and Casual Quest, two completely finished and polished games that I am proud of.
BYOND has recently made some changes in recognition of the way the internet has changed in the last decade. BYOND is no longer the only game in town, and Tom has recognized the need to upgrade our image and compete from a stronger position. Go visit the front page of any other game site out there, and what will you find? Games that are exceedingly fun, completely finished, and playable instantly! In honesty, I can't say the same about BYOND. We have a handful of finished games that a user could join and have fun in, and a sea of hubs for dreams and old bargain basement games. Some of these were good in their time, but who's going to actually play Dragon Snot or Bird Land? Are those really the games that are going to attract and retain a new user base? How much red do you want in your hair?
I've touched on a lot of points in this post, and I hope my reasons for mentioning each are starting to become clear. BYOND doesn't need your vapor ware - it needs you to make a finished game. It needs you to make a multiplayer game that can be played by a single player. It needs something that can be put on a front page, something which will not disappoint a new user who gives BYOND a try and logs in for the first time. I know you can do this, but it's going to take a change in attitude, a change in expectations, and a change in ambition. I'm not going to write The Great American Novel the first time I put pen to paper, and you're not going to make an MORPG that attracts 200 players daily on your first try. Make something small, something fun that can sit on the front page and get new players addicted. Make it fun! Make it in two weeks.
Above all else, finish it!